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Ashraf Al-Jabari, a businessman from Hebron who maintains ties to the Trump administration, is the only Palestinian so far who will attend the U.S.-led economic conference in Bahrain, the first phase of the launch of the White House's Middle East peace plan.

Why it matters: The fact that Al-Jabari is the only Palestinian willing to attend the event is a testament to the problems the Trump administration is having with promoting its peace plan. That's been exacerbated by fractured relations with Palestinian leadership since 2017, which occurred after the White House's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Details:

  • Al-Jabari, who maintains a relationship with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, doesn't represent the mainstream of the Palestinian business community.
  • He has close ties to the settler lobby in Israel and to settler leadership in the occupied West Bank. He is part of a settler organization called "The Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce" and publicly supported Israeli annexation of the West Bank and a one-state solution.
  • He even formed a new political party that presents itself as opposition to the Palestinian Authority.

The big picture: Influential Palestinian businessmen who were invited to the conference have already publicly rejected the invitation. They include:

  • Bashar Al-Masri, the Palestinian real estate tycoon who was behind Rawabi, a new Palestinian city in the West Bank.
  • Zahi Khouri, the Palestinian-American entrepreneur who holds the franchise for Coca-Cola in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Abed Alkarim Ashour, a Palestinian businessman from Gaza, who posted on his Facebook page the conference invitation he got from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and wrote: "The Bahrain conference aims at selling Palestine for a fistful of dollars - you in invited the wrong person."

Go deeper: Palestinians say they won't take part in White House's peace plan launch

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
8 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.